With early voting for the federal election starting today, Monday 29 April, mass public confusion still exists around Senate voting changes introduced in 2016 at the last election. Australia Institute research shows that almost half of voters are mistaken on how the new Senate voting rules work, which could have a big impact in a tight election contest.
The Australia Institute gave respondents the actual text instructions printed on the new Senate ballot papers, and found:
· Almost one in two voters (47%) mistook voting 6 above the line as voting for “the party you dislike more than any other party on the ballot paper” (ie “putting last”.) 32% disagreed.
· One-third of voters (32%) agreed numbering beyond 6 disqualifies the voter’s ballot paper. 37% disagreed.
However, under questioning by Fran Kelly on RN Breakfast, the AEC commissioner added to this confusion by:
· incorrectly telling listeners “one to six above the line” rather than – crucially – that voters are able to vote at least 1 to 6.
· when asked to clarify for listeners that preferencing parties 1 to 6 above the line equates to voters preferencing their top 6 choices (ie voting 6 above the line does not equate to “putting last”) the commissioner chose not to clarify and instead suggesting however voters would like to mark their votes is up to them.
Around 450,000 people in Australia have intellectual disabilities and recent studies have found rates of potentially avoidable deaths are up to three times higher. They have higher rates of physical and mental health conditions and double the rate of presentations to emergency departments.
Currently doctors receive just 2.5 hours of specific training across an average six-year degree, and nurses receive none.
Shadow minsters Catherine King and Linda Burney will announce later today Labor’s proposal for a three-year pilot program putting disability health workers in the primary health network to train GPs, and an education toolkit to better equip health workings and trainees on meeting the needs of patients with disabilities. The pilot program would cost $6.3m and put 10 trainers across four primary health networks for three years.
Another $3.2m will fund the development of a toolkit on disability healthcare and a pilot of “improved education” in two medical and two nursing schools.
The announcement comes after a push by 120 current and former heads of medical organisations, colleges and peak bodies, including the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, and the NSW Council for Intellectual Disabilities.
The group told Guardian Australia earlier this month $50m was needed for a network of disability support workers in primary health networks ($14m a year), an $8m boost to the curriculum, and a $3m national inquiry.
A Labor spokesman said the party had worked closely with the Council for Intellectual Disabilities on what were “new and complex initiatives”.
“Trialling and evaluating these programs gives us a chance to get implementation right before considering a national expansion.”
The commitment is a fraction of what was asked, but Jim Simpson, head of the council, said it was ”very good news” and was the largest commitment ever made by a major political party.
“It’s in line with the things we’re seeking and what’s particularly valuable is the strong preventative focus, ensuring graduates have the values, awareness and skills, and also lifting the focus in GP and primary care in prevention and early diagnosis.”
Simpson said while they would always push for “everything to happen yesterday”, the council supported the staged approach.
“Any pilots you can learn from which will mean we’ll obviously be then pressing for a full rollout, and the Labor announcement is encouraging in relation to that.”
He said the recent bipartisan support for a royal commission into the abuse and neglect of people with disabilities addressed their calls for a specific inquiry, as long as the treatment of people within the health system was a major focus of it.
Childcare plan is 'communism'
Dan Tehan had a chat to ABC radio this morning, where he had a few things to say about Labor’s multi-billion childcare plan:
“I mean this is a fast track to a socialist, if not communist economy. It is unheard of,” he said.
“... When they say it is going to be free, taxpayers are paying for this.”
Well yes, minister. Just as I am paying for roads I am never going to drive on, franking credits for other people, and medical treatments I will never need. But, I don’t think that paying for childcare to help low-income parents return to a capitalist society so they can put food on their table is “communism”. And as a child of an eastern European who lost everything fleeing a communist regime, I am pretty sure I am qualified to talk on that.
Seven West is hosting this first debate. It has been on a bit of crusade about fairness for the West, so you can expect a lot of questions on that. It’s not often WA is the centre of an election campaign, so it’s fairly excited.
For the record, the Parliamentary Budget Office will update all the costings and we will get the numbers just before the election date, not that it matters because it is all magical unicorn numbers until the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (Myefo).
Just a heads-up: I do not think I have the capacity to deal with another constitutional crisis. *eye twitch*At least 19 United Australia party candidates have submitted incomplete or inconsistent information to the Australian Electoral Commission, failing to provide evidence they are eligible to run for parliament.
The candidates for Clive Palmer’s party have asserted they are not dual citizens disqualified by section 44 of the constitution, but have mostly failed to provide birth details of their parents or grandparents, even in cases where candidates admit parents or grandparents were born overseas.
In one case the UAP candidate for Blaxland, Nadeem Ashraf, claimed in a statutory declaration that he lost dual Pakistani citizenship automatically when he became Australian in 1986. Even when taking up another citizenship Pakistani law requires a declaration of renunciation, which Ashraf failed to provide.
A spokesman for the United Australia party told Guardian Australia “all [candidates] are eligible and compliant under s44”, but failed to explain why they had not completed the checklist.
Labor leader Bill Shorten has promised to invest $75m to discovering mining resources if he wins the election.
Mr Shorten says the money will reverse the Liberals’ decision to stop the Exploring for the Future program, which uses technology to find future deposits by developing underground maps to show where minerals are.
About two-thirds of Australia’s potential mineral deposits remain undiscovered.
“We want to ensure Australian mines are powering the commodities of the future – such as lithium – as we build the renewable energy economy,” he said.
“Labor wants lithium batteries to be made domestically, seeing potential in the industry that will store renewable energy and power electric cars and smartphones.”
He’s leading Labor’s attack on the government for its preference deal with Clive Palmer:
Scott Morrison is legitimising … a bloke who ripped off his workers, a bloke who doesn’t stand for the Australian national interest. A bloke who, last time, he was in parliament, couldn’t be bothered voting on legislation most of the time and who fell asleep in question time.
I mean, this is the bloke that Scott Morrison is doing his best to re-elect to the Australian parliament. I am not so much worried about what that says about Clive Palmer. I am worried about what it says about Scott Morrison. Because it says to me that he is not fit to be the prime minister of Australia.There is a lot of talk about what it will mean if Palmer is back in the Senate and who will “accept” his vote or not. But just a reminder, that a political party can not reject the vote of a member of parliament. Yes, they can send someone out on their own side to nullify the vote, but it will still be recorded that that particular person voted for your side (which ever it may be), because MPs represent electorates, and you can’t reject those votes.
When it comes to deals to pass legislation, well, that’s a whole different story entirely.
This is the first time a result for the United Australia Party has been published, but the tables in The Australian today reveal the party was on 3% in the poll a fortnight ago, and 2% in the poll the week before that. As Peter Brent discusses in Inside Story, pollsters have an important decision to make in deciding whether to include a minor party in the primary question, or saving it for those who choose “other” out of an initial list – a decision that will have a bearing on their result. I assume the publication of the UAP result in the latest poll marks its elevation from the second tier to the first, but the publication of the earlier results may suggest otherwise.
Then there’s the two-party preferred, which raised eyebrows as the primary votes are of a kind that would normally be associated with 52-48. The answer, it turns out, is that a preference split of 60-40 in favour of the Coalition is being applied to the UAP vote. The rationale is explained in an accompanying piece by David Briggs, managing director of YouGov Galaxy, which conducts Newspoll. First, Briggs confirms this is also what it has been doing with One Nation preferences since the start of last year, earlier statements having been less exact. Of the decision to extend this to Palmer:
With the UAP there is no historical trend data we can refer to in order to estimate the likely preference flow to the major parties. We do know, however, that in the 2013 election 53.67 per cent of the Palmer United Party vote was directed to Coalition candidates. That was without a preference deal, but in the forthcoming federal election the Liberal Party will swap preferences with the UAP and this can only result in an even higher proportion of UAP votes being directed to the Coalition.
First, the poll shows the trend towards a tightening is, well, a trend. That’s to be expected, because the polls more often than not tighten up in the back end of a campaign.
The one-point movement is within the margin of error but it will still have Labor looking at what is going on.
But the primary vote is what I see as the more interesting story. The Coalition has dropped down to 38%, from 39% just two weeks ago. Labor’s is still hovering around 37%. That means, the polls being accurate, minor parties will matter. And they will matter a lot. The Greens are maintaining it’s 9% share. But Clive Palmer’s party has leapfrogged One Nation to claim 5% of the primary vote.
So what do the major parties do?
Scott Morrison will announce $1bn to build three new navy ships while he is in Fremantle. That’s on top of the $300m for carparks.
Bill Shorten announced $4bn for childcare at the weekend, with a further $2.4bn for senior dental care. That’s essentially taking the $6bn or so Labor says it will save from scrapping franking credits and spending it on seniors and families.
(insert Oprah YOU GET A CAR PARK AND YOU GET A CAR PARK gif here)
Frydenberg is very happy to announce $300m for 30 new/expanded car parks to “bust congestion in our cities and take 13,000 cars off the road”.
This is the biggest-ever investment by a federal government in commuter car parks and it is a real credit to Alan and the work that he’s done and the work that our colleagues ... are doing to ensure that the people in their communities can get to work sooner and get home safer and earlier to be with their families.
The Morrison government announced a royal commission last September in response to damning incidents of neglect, abuse and negligence in nursing homes across the country.
Tasked with examining the state of aged care in the country, the commission is due to release its final report in April next year. While the sector welcomed the decision, a key advocacy group is now urging both parties not to use it as an excuse to delay immediate reform.
On Monday Aged and Community Services Australia released a statement calling for both parties to commit to addressing “urgent priorities” in the sector before next month’s election.
“We can’t use the royal commission as an excuse to delay urgent reforms that will improve aged care right now,” said the groups’s chief executive, Patricia Sparrow.
“We don’t think it’s acceptable to announce the commission and not do anything about funding and structural issues until after its recommendations are released. There are things that can be done now to address some of those issues.”
The peak advocacy group for not-for-profit aged care providers, ACSA, wants both parties to commit to extending the short-term $662m funding boost announced by the Coalition in February until the royal commission’s recommendations can be implemented.
The funding, to be announced on Monday, includes $50m for workforce development, $40m to establish a new policing unit within the centre to fight organised crime gangs and $26m to expand community assistance.
The campaign pledge comes in the wake of the Bureau of Meteorology being hacked in 2016 and an attempt to hack the federal parliament’s computer network in February by a state actor, which also affected major political parties.
The measures announced on Monday are mainly directed at protecting citizens and businesses from cybercrime, which costs the Australian economy more than $1bn annually.
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, said: “As the risk of cyber-attack increases we need to ensure Australians are protected and our defence forces and capabilities continue to get the backing they need.
“We will continue to take a proactive approach against cyber criminals at home and overseas, including scammers, fraudsters and those involved in child exploitation.”
The workforce planning element of the policy will include scholarships for study of cybersecurity courses, with 50% of the scholarships reserved for women, greater investment in cybersecurity educational activities in schools, and development of specialist courses to improve government, industry and defence capability.
The Coalition would develop a comprehensive online training program providing practical advice for small businesses, older Australians and Australian families.
A further $40m investment will accelerate the creation of 230 positions for military cyber operations specialists in the Australian defence force and create up to 100 new gap-year positions each year to encourage young Australians to embark on a cyber-related career.
A massive, massive thank you to Gabrielle Chan for filling in while I traipsed across Queensland (and then tackled the dreaded campaign flu, which is as ubiquitous in any election campaign as politicians holding babies).
But with 19 days left we have hit the campaign proper, just as pre-polls open.
The public holidays are over, meaning this last three-week stretch will not be interrupted.
Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten will go head to head for the first time tonight in Perth, for the first of three debates. They do it in the shadow of the latest Newspoll, which has the Coalition gaining one point, making it 51 to 49. That movement is within the margin of error but it is part of a trend, showing that the Coalition is tightening the race. But the primary vote remains quite low for both parties. Which makes the minor parties absolutely crucial.
And Clive Palmer is emerging as kingmaker. What are his actual policies? Who knows? But his name is absolutely everywhere and it’s proving enough to make a difference. Particularly in Queensland, where Palmer may actually snatch the sixth Senate spot at the expense of One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts.
How’s that for a Sophie’s choice?
Meanwhile, there are about 500 polling booths opening across the country today. And people who know more about these things than me tell me that close to 40% of voters are expected to head to the polls before 18 May.
That’s a lot of people who have already made up their mind. It’s also a problem for the major parties, who are used to knuckling down and winning those hearts and minds in the final two weeks.
So there is a lot to get into today. I hope you have had your coffee. I haven’t had nearly enough.
Let’s get into it.